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Review of The Exodus Case: New Discoveries Confirm the Historical Exodus. By Lennart Möller.

Copenhagen NV, Denmark: Scandinavia Publishing, 2002. 317 pp. $34.95.

It is not often that someone comes up with a refreshingly creative approach explaining the biblical Exodus
account, but Dr. Lennart Möller—a medical doctor, professor at the University of Stockholm, and scientist
at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm—has done just that in this unusual wedding of biblical account,
archeology, and illustration. The book succeeds a short film entitled The Exodus Revealed (Questar Video,
ISBN: 1568557361) and anticipates a longer production, a three-hour video that is currently in the works
(www.exoduscase.com).
One of the things the reader will appreciate about Dr. Möller’s presentation is that at the very beginning
he clearly states his assumptions and the approach he will take to various topics. First of all, he is operating
from a biblical framework: he assumes that the Bible is true. Secondly, he revisits sites in order to verify
the data brought forth by other archeologists. Thirdly, he marries the data with the biblical text to check for
fit. Dr. Möller seeks to build a cohesive picture showing how Scripture and archeology (faith and fact) fit
together.
As a result, he comes up with a model of biblical history that sometimes runs counter to the typical
history of the Ancient Near East, Egypt, and the Exodus event, but one that merits attention and follows
closely the biblical accounts. It is interesting that Dr. Möller works hard to avoid being dogmatic about his
conclusions, since he realizes that archeological data is, at best, only partial. All along the way there is a
wide array of archeological evidence presented.
Some of Dr. Möller’s conclusions may seem unusual. For instance:
1. According to Dr. Möller’s analysis, biblical Ur (which Abraham left) was probably not in Iraq, but
in what is southeast Turkey today, possibly at or near present-day Urfa. That would place it much closer
to Harran. As evidence, Dr. Möller presents photographs and road signs of the places in the area that
bear names closely resembling Nimrod, Shinar, Ur and Chaldee (kale). Whether this is incidental or
relevant is difficult to determine, to be sure. But most modern scholars assume that the Ur that Abram
departed from was in the East. That, in turn, is at least partially based on another assumption, namely,
that Nimrod’s Babel, Accad, and Shinar could only have extended from the Tigris and Euphrates valley
directly northward, and not westward. Dr. Möller suggests that Nimrod’s kingdom could have been
much larger if the Babel and Assur of Genesis 10:10-11 are indeed the ones we find mentioned
later on in Scripture.
2. Dr. Möller locates the five cities of the plain (including Sodom and Gomorrah) that were destroyed
in Genesis 19 next to the Dead Sea near Masada. In fact, all five of these sites are visible from Masada.
They are all unusual in that they are littered with gypsum-encrusted sulfur balls. Again an abundance
of pictures illustrates every point.
3. Joseph is identified with Imhotep of Egypt. Now, according to typical Egyptian chronology, the
timing is all wrong for this one to work. By conservative dates, Joseph lived in the 17 th–18th centuries
B.C. Most conventional dating of the reign of Pharaoh Djoser and Imhotep is about 900 years earlier
than that. However, if we hold that objection in abeyance and “listen” while Dr. Möller lays out his
case, it does prove to be interesting. Toward the end of the discussion, he finally deals with the
chronological problem in an arguably satisfactory manner. But the jury is still out on this one. The
similarities that he points out between Joseph and Imhotep are intriguing, and because Egyptian
chronology is rather imprecise, a thousand-year variance does not rule out the possibility that Joseph in
fact was Imhotep. However, Dr. Möller’s case would have been much stronger if the chronological
issues were dealt with in the beginning of this discussion.
4. According to Dr. Möller, Moses is quite likely the missing pharaoh Thutmose II, and his adoptive
mother may have been queen Hatshepsut. Eighteenth-dynasty Egyptian history has intrigued historians
for years. Pharaoh Thutmose I had a powerful daughter, Hatshepsut, who reigned as queen of Egypt
for a very short time after her father’s death. There was presumably a Thutmose II, but no one knows
what happened to him because all references to him have either been lost or intentionally destroyed
(Egyptian history is notoriously revisionist in nature). After the death of Thutmose I and a brief period
of civil unrest in which Hatshepsut was presumably the reigning monarch, Thutmose III took over the
throne. Interestingly, Thutmose III’s tomb has never been found. Instead, we have the tomb of the
young 18th-dynasty pharaoh Tutankamun, who possibly had been serving in a coregency with his father
Thutmose III when he died. His tomb was remarkably small. It is thought that the tomb he was buried
in was not his own, but one that was being constructed for another, since a pharaohs’ tombs were usually
quite large. Egyptian history picks up with the ascendancy of Thutmose IV, who was from a different
family line altogether.
The following is Dr. Möller’s reconstruction of the situation. Tutankhamun was the firstborn son of
Pharaoh Thutmose III and therefore died as a result of the tenth plague. That explains the hurried and
limited nature of his burial in Thutmose III’s still unfinished tomb. Thutmose III was then drowned in
the Red Sea while pursuing the Israelites, which explains why his burial place has never been found.
The history of Egypt is very murky around the period of the 18th dynasty. What is preserved is primarily
either on tombs or temples and tends to be “official” or revisionist in nature. The few papyri that have
been found are helpful but still cryptic. Scripture, on the other hand, when taken as history, can be quite
enlightening on this subject. Dr. Möller’s dating of events at this point in the 18th dynasty is consistent
with a conservative dating of the Exodus event. It places the events from Moses’ birth to the Exodus
between the late 16th and mid-15th century B.C. His identification of the characters involved makes for
an interesting reconstruction.
5. The book is at its strongest when it comes to tracing the path of the Exodus itself, since it builds on
years of Dr. Möller’s expeditions. Here the book follows The Exodus Revealed, a film Dr. Möller’s
team released in 2001. It showed a site in the Gulf of Aqaba called Al Nuweiba, between Sinai and
Saudi Arabia, where a relatively shallow sand bank connects the Sinai peninsula and Saudi Arabia. The
path that Israel took to the eastern side of the Sinai peninsula is mapped out to the only point on the
eastern side large enough to accommodate a group of several million people. At that point the Red Sea
is about eight miles wide, its bottom is wide and flat, and the water is only a few hundred feet deep.
There Dr. Möller’s team found, strewn across the sea floor, wagon and chariot wheels, broken pieces
of chariots and weaponry, along with what appear to be human, horse and bovine skeletal remains. The
photographic and fossilized evidence is impressive. What was shown very quickly in the film is laid
out carefully here with a more detailed explanation. One is left with the impression that there is much
more that could have been said but for space limitations.
6. On the other side of the crossing site, the Israelites were led to the mountain of God, which Dr.
Möller identifies as present-day Jabal al Laws in northwestern Saudi Arabia (ancient Midian). He also
identifies the plain on the east side of the mountain where Israel encamped, the place where the Israelite
elders met to worship the Lord halfway up the mountain (Exodus 24:1–18), and the cave and rock
mentioned in the Elijah story (1 Kings 19). Once again, he presents archeological evidence to support
his claims. The traditional site of Mount Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula near the monastery of St. Catherine
has never been a very convincing match for the description of the mountain given in Exodus. Jabal al
Laws (along with the path taken to it) seems a much better fit.
The book is not without flaws. The photos, maps, and illustrations, while abundant, are smaller than
one would like them to be. At times this makes them difficult to read. However, it should be acknowledged
that the sheer volume may preclude enlarging them further without substantially increasing the number of
pages. Nevertheless, many pictures would have been more helpful if they were larger.
The book sorely lacks two things which will affect its scholarly acceptance. The first is an editor’s
hand. While the content is without question valuable, the presentation needs to be more polished. As it
stands, the text is rough. The second is bona fide footnotes. While Dr. Möller carefully documents Josephus’
works in the text, he presents only the barest of endnotes to all other works referenced. Many do not even
include page numbers. A standard scholarly reference format should be adopted throughout the book, and
endnotes should be moved to footnotes if possible. It is crucial that sources be carefully documented for a
work to be taken seriously.
Michael L. Thompson

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